Jing, ‘the giver of life,’ is the first of the Three Treasures according to Daoist principles. Jing is also ‘Essence’ and as such it is a very dense and energy packed life promoting substance.
We receive our Jing from our parents, each providing their energies in the form of egg and sperm. But, in addition, the energy and Jing of all our ancestors are part of the mix! Our Jing is unique to us as we are unique to the world.
Jing Essence exists in a stage of pure potential and becoming. It is a stored energy that can transform at any moment into what the Chinese refer to as ‘the ten thousand things’ or what we call creation. Jing is not only used to create another human being, it can also be used to create thoughts, works of art, symphonies, novels, and companies. Anything that the mind can create is a manifestation of Jing.
In the body, Jing is traditionally associated with the Kidneys, spinal fluid, brain, skeletal structure, and bone marrow.
Jing Essence must be protected and nourished if we are to experience healthy aging and longevity. Our life choices, what we choose to eat, how we choose to act, and how much rest we give ourselves all have a direct impact on the quality and quantity of our Jing Essence.
Qi, ‘the breath of life’ is the second of the Three Treasures. This is what is referred to when most people speak about ‘energy.’ Everything in creation is composed of Qi in one form or another. In the teachings of Classical Chinese Medicine, human beings are concerned with two major forms of Qi, pre-natal and post-natal. Pre-natal Qi is the energy that is donated and supplied by a mother during the development of her child. After the mother gives birth, the child then becomes independent of the mother’s energy system and will then begin to use its post-natal Qi to support its life, growth, and development.
In Classical Chinese Medicine, Qi has five major functions in the human body. The first is movement, that includes the movement and function of all organ systems in the body as well as the muscles. The second is warming, as in maintaining a constant body temperature. The third is protecting, this usually refers to the immune system and all of its functions. The fourth is holding, this has to do with holding all the organs and tissues in their proper place and also holding the blood in the vessels. The fifth is transformation, and this may be one of the most important because all human biological and physiological processes are based on the transformation of Qi.
Lastly, the production of post-natal Qi in the body is related to two major organ systems, the Lungs and the Digestive system (Spleen and Stomach). The reason we call Qi the ‘breath of life’ is that is has such an intimate relationship with the Lungs. Through the transformation of the food we eat and the air we breathe, the body is able to digest and assimilate nutrients to sustain our lives.
The quality of our the air we breathe and the food that we choose to eat will have a direct impact on the quality and quantity of the Qi we are able to produce on a minute to minute and day to day basis.
Shen, ‘the light of life’ is the third of the Three Treasures. This is the most refined and immeasurable of the energies. It is translated as ‘Spirit,’ but it is much more than just our spirit. It is our consciousness. Our higher self. Our connection to the Divine. Shen is housed in the Heart, and when abundant, provides us with feelings of peace, calm, and serenity. It gives us proper perspective on our life and our place in the universe. Compassion and empathy for others are hallmarks of awakened Shen.
What is important to understand about Shen, is that it ultimately is best cultivated by mastering Jing and Qi and the body. It is similar to a pregnancy, when the egg and sperm are united, a Spirit naturally attaches to the new life. When we are Jing and Qi deficient or out of balance, we do not have the vehicle best suited for housing the highest vibration of Shen energy. When Jing and Qi are properly balanced, nourished, and united, Shen can flourish! That is why it is so important to protect, nourish, and balance all Three Treasures.
The Shen is revealed to others through the eyes. It is also visible in our face, our expressions, our smile, our alertness. When Shen is strong, we have mental acuity and sharpness. Our imagination is activated. We become channels of energy. We are in the great immortal flow of life!